The Charlotte News
Wednesday, March 23, 1938
Site Ed. Note: Though we have not yet collected them, we will soon endeavor to provide you with the series of articles by F.D.R. to which the first editorial refers.
F. R's Own Story
We begin publication today of a series of articles which we have found extremely interesting--President Roosevelt's own account of the principal policies and events of his first four years in office. Nobody, of course, needs to accept this as the whole story. On the contrary, it is very unlikely that it is the whole story as historians eventually will write it. But it is nonetheless absorbing to hear from the President himself precisely how the case has appeared to him.
And it is to be said that the man who writes these articles is the better Franklin Roosevelt. There always has been two Franklin Roosevelts, and one of them is simply an astute and altogether practical politician. But the Roosevelt here is that one of the earlier radio speeches--intensely convinced that he is right, but relying on the weight of the evidence to convince rather than on invective, and speaking with a good deal more candor than usual in men in his position. He never gets around, indeed, to admitting those mistakes he once promised to admit. But he slurs over nothing, not forgetting even the dreadful air mail mess--an instance in which he was plainly at fault, if only because he acted too precipitately.
But, for him or against him, nobody should slight the reading of his story. It's an unusual opportunity to follow the inside of history in the making, to re-examine the New Deal under the guidance of the man who invented it.
Hitler Faces West
Mr. Hitler does not seem to have very well understood the warning intended for him in the recent flight of a squadron of American bombers over South America. Or if he did understand it, he is apparently laboring under the appalling misapprehension that in Franklin Roosevelt he has only to deal with another Neville Chamberlain.
His stooge journal, Deutsche Diplomatische-Politische Korrespondenz, and the German Foreign Office are yapping at Senor Vargas in Brazil for having banned activities of the Nazi Party in that country, and demanding that he "permit Germans and their organizations to develop quietly and without disturbance..." What he means by that we know well enough from the cases of Austria and Czechoslovakia. And the Buenos Aires newspaper, Critica, advises us that Nazi and Italian Fascist "penetration, interference, and intimidation" are already general, not only in Brazil but in the whole of South and Central America, and that an organized campaign is being carried on to inspire hate for the United States and Great Britain.
Mr. Hitler may labor under the impression that the United States is prepared to allow the Monroe Doctrine to sink into oblivion. But if so, he should read the policy declaration in the new naval bill passed by the House Monday. And if he imagines that he can bluff past it, he had better look up an account of what happened to another German attempt to secure a foothold in South America back in 1903 when another Roosevelt was President of the United States.
There probably isn't anybody, outside of that coterie of New Deal advisers that believes in government spending as a device for sharing the wealth, who wouldn't advise taking a halter of taxes off business for awhile if there was a responsible hope, however slim, that the old nag would come to life again, put people to work, restore capital investment and set the country to humming happily once more. And it has been pretty well demonstrated that the projects the Government can devise, at the direct expense of the taxpayers, are not a bagatelle to the projects business can undertake and cheerily foot the bills for.
Something on this order was expressed to the Senate Finance Committee this week by a tax expert of the United States Chamber of Commerce. Industry, he said, must be encouraged, not discouraged by taxation which raised the adverse odds so high as to remove the temptation to gamble. "The way to make money, gentlemen, is to get other people making money so that your kitty [the house] will pick it up." He came down to cases with specific tax suggestions which he estimated would "get other people making money" and cost the Treasury, by its on estimates, only $300,000,000 a year even if business did not pick up.
This may be a barefaced scheme to save large taxpayers $300,000,000 a year. It may be, on the other hand, the very medicine that business needs. In either event it looks like a gamble that ought to be taken, and it would be cheap at the price even if it lost. The cost of fighting the depression has run around three billions a year and this fellow has a plan that will take only a tenth so much.
So far as the constitutional power to remove Arthur Morgan goes, it is our guess that the President has the best of the argument. The Supreme Court decision in the Humphreys case clearly has no applicability in the premises, for Humphreys was a member of the Federal Trade Commission, a quasi-judicial body, whereas the duties of the TVA Board are purely executive. Nor does it much matter what the statute creating the Board may say. For the executive power is purely the President's under the Constitution, and Congress has no more authority to strip him of it than he has to strip Congress of the power to legislate.
But if the President is likely within his strict rights, the wisdom of his action is another thing. Chairman Morgan has made most grave charges involving the integrity of the public service. And obviously, they are such charges as could be proved or disproved only by the most searching and thorough inquiry into the whole record--such charges as plainly ought to have been threshed out in public by the Congress. But the President has demanded that Morgan do the impossible and prove his charges out of hand "in a morning," has chosen to assume that failure to do that is proof that the charges are untrue, and--worse yet--laid down the rule that the integrity of the public service is of no account as against the success of the TVA. It is a good deal less than candid, and it is utterly irreconcilable with the President's constantly reiterated devotion to High Ideals and Clean Government.
Hamming a Quotation
Poor Ham Fish is afflicted with the same unfortunate difficulty which troubles Sancho Panza and Mrs. Malaprop. Ham, obliviously, yearns to be set down for a brilliant and a caustic fellow. Given any opening or no opening at all, he hurries into print with some pronouncement which, one gathers, is meant to be simply killing. And so, indeed, it often is, but not precisely as Ham intended.
Thus yesterday, hearing of the President's dismissal of Arthur Morgan, he drew himself up to his old football height and delivered himself in this fashion:
"It stinks to high heaven like a mackerel in the moonlight."
What he was trying to do, of course, was to quote the celebrated remark of old John Randolph of Roanoke anent Henry Clay, which led to a duel between the two--the remark that Mr. Clay "shone like a rotten mackerel in the moonlight." Meaning, of course, that Mr. Clay was a brilliant fellow who was utterly corrupt in the use of his brilliance. But as Ham got it out--there is not the slightest reason, plainly, to believe that a mackerel smells any worse in the moonlight than in the sunlight--or even as bad.
And It's Retroactive*
From time to time this city entertains conventions. Some of these conventions are pragmatic--that is, their delegates assemble in deadly earnestness to consider ways and means of bettering this, that or the other. At lunchtime, they go to restaurants and discuss Professor Soandso's uplifting message, and promptly at two o' clock they retire to the hall so as not to miss any of Dr. Whatshisname's address.
We are glad to be hosts to such serious-minded conventioners naturally, and besides they help business--some.
There is another kind of convention, half work and thee-quarters play. Those in attendance come late to the morning meetings and they fret around until that is over with, then make a bee-line for conviviality again. And there is a third kind of convention, which to all appearances makes no pretense of being held for any other purpose than that of having a high old time, of raising the roof and other fixtures. These are Shrine conventions, and evidently conventions of Shrine Directors are no more sedate than those of the lesser nobles.
Ah, well; they say the most satisfactory guest is the fellow who has the best time; and while we've no idea that the Shrine Directors are awaiting any invitation to help themselves to the city's hospitality, here's one to go to it, gents, and damned be he who cries first, "Hold; enough!"
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